The Introduction to Japanese Antonyms

Is anybody out there a Nickelodeon fan? No, I mean a REAL Nickelodeon fan!

I want you to rewind the clock…Snick!? Oh man, that would be an awesome place to stop because it was the first time I ever saw Doug, Rugrats, Ren & Stimpy, and Are You Afraid of the Dark…but keep going.

I’m talking about the first Nickelodeon show I ever saw that used slime. I’m talking about You Can’t Do That On Television! This show was a classic and I was looking at a little bit of it on You Tube. There were two skits that I really liked about the show. There was one where the kids on the show would be inside of school lockers, and open them to talk to one another (like they were small apartments or something). When I was a kid, I was looking forward to doing that when I got to high school. I did end up getting to see some people inside their lockers, but the way they got stuffed inside of them never looked like as much fun as they made it look on the show. The other sketch I liked was the “Introduction to the Opposites.” It was a sketch where regulars on the show would do something uncharacteristic of themselves. I don’t know how well the show stands up today, but check it out (sorry about the commercials):

The Introduction to the Opposites sketch triggered a Japanese switch in my brain, and I thought it’d be a great time to make a post about some common words that are opposites of one another. It’s a great way to learn and remember Japanese vocabulary.

So today let’s take a look at the Introduction to the Japanese Opposites.

(HANTAIGO (はんたいご or 反対語))


In hiragana, kanji, and romaji
1. Big (おおき, 大き, Oki)— Small (ちいさい, 小さい, Chisai)
2. Tall (せのたかい, 背の高い, Senotakai) — Short (せがひくい, 背が低い, Segahikui)
3. Fat (ふとった, 太った, Futotta) — Thin (やせた, 痩せた, Yaseta)
4. Old (としとった, 年取った, Toshitotta) — Young (わかい, 若い, Wakai)
5. Beautiful (うつくしい, 美しい, Utsukushi) — Ugly (みにくい, 醜い, Minikui)

6. Weak (よわい, 弱い, Yowai) — Strong (つよい, 強い, Tsuyoi)
7. Fast (はやい, 速い Hayai) — Slow (おそい, 遅い, Osoi)
8. Loud (うるさい, 煩い Urusai or (やかましい, 喧しい, Yakamshi) — Quiet (しずか Shizuka)
9. Free (ひま, 暇, Hima) — Busy (いそがしい, 忙しい, Isogashii)
10. Expensive (たかい, 高い, Takai) — Cheap (やすい, 安い, Yasui)

11. Sharp (するどい, 鋭い, Surudoi) — Dull (きれあじのにぶい, 切れ味の鈍い, Kireajinonibui)
12. Full (いっぱいの, 一杯, Ippai no) — Empty (からの, 空の, Kara no)
13. Wet (ぬれた 濡れた Nureta) — Dry (かわいた, 乾いた, Kawa ita)
14. Private (しゆうの, 私有の, Shiyuno) — Public (おおやけ, 公の, Ooyake)
15. Better (よりよい, より良い, Yoriyoi) — Worse (よりわるい, より悪い, Yoriwarui)

16. New (あたらしい, 新しい, Atarashi) — Old (ふるい, 古い, Furui)
17. Good (よい, 良い, Yoi) — Bad (わるい, 悪い, Warui)
18. Lucky (こううん, 幸運, Koun) — Unlucky (ふうんな, 不運な, Funna)
19. Light (かるい, 軽い, Karui) — Heavy (おもい, 重い, Omoi)
20. Rich (かねもちの 金持ちの Kanemochino) — Poor (まずいしい, 貧しい, Mazuishi)


21. North (きた, 北, Kita) —South (みなみ, 南, Minami)
22. East (ひがし, 東, Higashi) —-West(にし, 西, Nishi)
23. Up (うえ, 上, Ue) —-Down* (した, 下, Shita)
24. Left (ひだり, 左, Hidari) —Right* (みぎ, 右, Migi)
25. Front (まえの, 前の, Mae no) —Back (うしろ, 後ろ, Ushiro)

26. In (なかへ, 中へ, Naka e) —Out (そとへ, 外へ, Soto e (sounds like sota-ay))
27. Near (ちかい 近い Chikai)—Far (とおい, 遠い, Tooi)
28. Inside (うち 内 Uchi)—Outside (そと, 外, Soto)

*Japan Guy Brownie Points to anyone who can tell me the game code to get thirty lives in the video game Contra :) . Double bonus points if you can tell me the directional words in Japanese ;)


29. Win (かつ 勝つ Katsu— Lose (まける, 負ける, Makeru)
30. Laugh (わらう 笑う Warau— Cry (なく, 泣く, Naku)

31. Push (おす 押す Osu— Pull (ひく, 引く, Hiku)
32. Sit (すわって 座って Suwatte — Stand (たって, 立って, Tatte)
33. Forget (わすれる, 忘れる, Wasureru— Remember (おぼえている, 覚えている, Oboeteiru)
34. Live (いきる, 生きる, Ikiru — Die (しぬ, 死ぬ, Shinu)
35. Open (あける, 開ける, Akeru — Close (しめる, 閉める, Shimeru)

36. Wake Up (おきる, 起きる, Okiru — Go to Sleep (ねる, 寝る, Neru)
37. Attack (こうげきする, 攻撃する, Kogekisuru —- Defend (まもる, 守る, Mamoru)
38. Send (おくる, 送る, Okuru —Receive (うけとる, 受け取る, Uketoru)
39. Increase (ふえる, 増える, Fueru — Decrease (へる, 減る, Heru)
40. Put On (きる, 着る, Kiru — Take Off (ぬぐ, 脱ぐ, Nugu)

Ask (たずねる, 尋ねる, Tazuneru)—Answer (こたえる, 答える, Kotaeru)
Sell (うる, 売る, Uru)—Buy (かう, 買う, Kau)
Teach (おしえる, 教える, Oshieru) —Learn (ならう, 習う, Narau)

Do you have any other Japanese opposites that you’d like to add? Feel free to post away in the comments section below.

Thanks for reading.

See you tomorrow,

Donald Ash

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  • MintPup

    Let me try this. Hmmmm…..
    Ue ue shita shita hidari migi hidari migi B A start?
    I knew all the Japanese words except for hidari. Curses! I should have known that one! Oh well, it was fun to do anyways. :)

    • Donald Ash

      NICE!!! Hehehe, double brownie points awarded, MintPup :D


  • Larry

    Donald, you’d do better to stick with the dictionary form of the verbs, except for the cases where a different form is more appropriate. Don’t forget the second “i” in adverbs where transliteration calls for it (like やさしい yasashii). Oh, and 喧しい (やかましい)is noisy or boisterous, not quiet. I’m really enjoying your posts, so excuse what I hope are constructive criticisms.

    • Donald Ash

      No, no, it’s all good, Larry. I appreciate when readers catch things and offer advice. I’m not really sure how I screwed up the noisy thing, but thank you for catching the mistakes. I’ll be sure to go back an make corrections. Oh, and thanks for the feedback :)

  • Sid

    This right here is pure gold for me thank you very much!

  • Ashley

    This is great!


  • RobertGaijin

    I’m in Japan – trying to ram in as much knowledge of Japanese in as short a time as possible – really; I’m desperate to level up. This is one of the better sites I’ve stumbled on. And you’re photo is such a happy one. I’m inspired to keep going! Thanks for posting this.

  • Pretty Nwe Nwe


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